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Mother Jones

Labor Organizer and Agitator


Mother Jones

Mother Jones 1924

Courtesy of Library of Congress. Modifications © Jone Lewis 2001.

Dates: August 1, 1837 - November 30, 1930

(she claimed May 1, 1830 as her birth date)

Occupation: labor organizer

Known for: radical support of mine workers, radical politics

Also Known as: Mother of All Agitators, the Miner's Angel. Birth name: Mary Harris. Married name: Mary Harris Jones

About Mother Jones:

Born Mary Harris in Ireland, raised in Canada, a teacher in Michigan and a dressmaker in Chicago, she married George Jones in 1861 and they had four children. George Jones and all four children died in a yellow fever epidemic in Memphis, Tennessee, in 1867. Mary Harris Jones then moved to Chicago, where she became a dressmaker. She lost her home, shop and belongings in the Great Chicago Fire of 1871.

A gradually growing interest in labor union issues and in radical politics led her to become active by her late 50s as Mother Jones, a white-haired radical labor organizer. Mother Jones worked mainly with the United Mine Workers, where, among other activities, she often organized strikers' wives.

In 1903 Mother Jones led a children's march from Kensington, Pennsylvania, to New York to protest child labor to President Roosevelt. In 1905, Mother Jones was among the founders of the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW, the "Wobblies").

In the 1920s, Mother Jones wrote her Autobiography. Mother Jones became less active as her health failed, and died in 1930, age 93 (she claimed 100).

A 2001 biography by Elliott Gorn has added significantly to the facts known of Mother Jones' life and work.


More About Mother Jones:

Places: Ireland; Toronto, Canada; Chicago, Illinois; Memphis, Tennessee; West Virginia, Colorado; United States

Organizations/Religion: United Mine Workers, IWW - Industrial Workers of the World or Wobblies, Roman Catholic, freethinker

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